Statue of BLM protester replaces slave trader

Lawrence Kim
July 16, 2020

Bristol City council has removed a sculpture of a Black Lives Matter protester that was erected yesterday in the place of slave trader Edward Colston's toppled statue.

The authorities in the southwestern city of Bristol said they had taken down the sculpture - entitled "A Surge of Power" showing Black Lives Matter demonstrator Jen Reid with her fist raised - nearly exactly 24 hours after it was placed on the plinth without permission.

The artist, Marc Quinn, who created the resin and steelwork after seeing a photo of Reid holding her hand up near where the statue of Edward Colston had just been torn down, said in an interview he didn't expect the statue to stay but had hoped it would be there long enough to start a conversation about why people are memorialized in statues.

"I am a part of this city and I can not pretend that the presence of this statue to Colston - a slaver - with a plaque on it that says he was a "wise and virtuous son of the city" is anything other than a personal affront to me and people like me", Rees said in an interview with ABC News after the statue's toppling. "And for people to discuss, educate, learn and just keep talking about, you know, BLM (Black Lives Matter)'".

"A Surge of Power" by British sculptor Marc Quinn.

"This morning we removed the sculpture". 'It was like an electrical charge of power was running through me.

"I think it's awesome", she said.

Quinn's previous works include self-portrait "Self" and a sculpture entitled "Alison Lapper Pregnant", which was displayed in London's Trafalgar Square.

JEN REID: I think that statue there, putting aside it being myself, is definitely Colston is no more.

Quinn told The Guardian: "I've always felt it's part of my job to bring the world into art and art into the world".

It was dragged to the harbourside, where it was thrown in the water, something Reid described as "a truly historical moment". About a month later, a life-size sculpture of a protester named Jen Reid has taken the place of Colston's statue.

Colston's statue had occupied the plinth since 1895 before being taken down by BLM protesters who took to the streets following the killing of African American George Floyd by police in the U.S. city of Minnesota in May. "A surge of power out to them all".

Speaking to the Shropshire Star, Reid said: "Creating this sculpture is so important as it helps keep the journey towards racial justice and equity moving, because black lives matter every day. It's something to feel proud of, to have a sense of belonging, because we actually do belong here and we're not going anywhere".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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